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Monuments Men: Experts of Works Of Art From The Past and Present

Chelsea Fine Art Insurance | The newest film by George Clooney called “Monuments Men” tells the true story of a group of art professionals, tasked with recovering works of art stolen by the Nazis during the Second World War. After viewing the film, we return to the true story of those men who, for some, sacrificed their lives for the sake of art and the importance of preserving cultural property.


The Greatest Rescue of Works of Art in Wartime

The Monuments Men were actually 345 men and women from 13 different countries recruited for their expertise in works of art for the MFAA (Monuments, Fine Arts and Archive program) mission dedicated to the restitution of cultural objects in the affected areas of the conflict. These people were not soldiers, but gallery owners, art professionals or architects who risked their lives to save cultural property and return it to their owners during the Second World War.

Old gilded frame. Antique frame with ornament. Recognize the art. Chelsea Art Insurance

Georges Clooney speaks these very strong words during the film: “If one destroys these works of art, one destroys a whole history.” The Monuments Men fought to save part of this story.

Since 1949, the French state retains the works of art found during the Second World War. Conservationists and members of the CIVS (Commission for the Compensation of Victims of Spoliation) are still trying to find the owners when more than a hundred works of art were diverted by the Nazis.

Some works also reappeared decades later. The latest discovery was the discovery of 1,500 paintings of masters confiscated at the time by the Nazis in the apartment of an octogenarian (a person who is between 80 and 89 years old) in Munich.

Thanks to the “Monuments Men”, some of the plundered works of art have been saved and others continue their tasks today to find these treasures.

Girls looking at paintings Arkhip Kuindzhi at the State Russian museum. The museum is the largest depository of Russian fine art in St. Petersburg - Chelsea Art Insurance

The current preservation of cultural property

Today, the art market and the museum world continue to put art at the heart of the contemporary world, through beautiful exhibitions, but also opportunities to acquire ever larger works of art (at art fairs, auctions and via internet shopping, etc.)

Thus, the number of enthusiasts continues to increase, as does the value of works of art (as shown by the sale of a triptych Francis Bacon at 105.7 million Euros in 2013). The preservation of cultural heritage, therefore, remains an essential issue for both States and individuals. Indeed, the artistic heritage of private collectors represents an increasingly important part of their global heritage.

Chelsea Fine Art Insurance

This is why it is important to call on a network of professionals who are recognized for their expertise in works of art in order to preserve these cultural properties. For collectors as well as for all actors in the art market, this begins with the choice of a specialist insurer with a thorough knowledge of the art world, such as Chelsea Fine Art Insurance. In the case of damage or theft, Chelsea Fine Art Insurance will be able to mobilise the right experts to intervene effectively and restore or replace the damaged works.